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Monday, 30 July 2012 11:23

Babies In The Workplace

Written by  Innes Clark
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To continue with the recent employment related television programmes theme I couldn't help but watch an interesting programme on BBC2 earlier this week called Babies in the Office (whose subject matter can probably be deduced from the title!).

As an experiment John Griffin, the chairman of minicab firm Addison Lee, allowed eight members of staff to bring their babies and toddlers into the office with them for a period of a month.

Unsurprisingly, when the proposal was set out, there was a mixed response from the staff while some were immediately supportive of the trial others, including Mr Griffin himself, worried that the youngsters might have a disruptive effect on the workplace (really!?), and could potentially damage the company's brand.

Initially there were some teething problems with the scheme, with the parents of older toddlers in particular finding it difficult to balance managing their workload and caring for their child at least one parent dropped out during the course of the trial, after an afternoon spent trying to stop her daughter from escaping out of the office meant that she was unable to get any work done. But many of the staff grew to love having the babies in the office, with even some of the most hardened cynics mellowing to them, and most were sad to see them go at the end of the trial.

The idea of babies in the workplace is not totally new. I previously blogged about Officebroker.com, who attempted to introduce a similar scheme last year. But whilst Officebroker.com didn't continue their babies at work scheme, Addison Lee have decided to make it a permanent fixture. A survey at the end of the trial period found that most of the staff felt either positive or indifferent about the scheme, with only a small handful seriously objecting. The firm have decided that children under the age of one will be allowed to sit at their parents' desks, whilst the older, more mobile children will be placed in the new on-site nursery.

In introducing this change permanently, Addison Lee will be the first UK company, so far as I am aware, to allow babies in the office. Both the staff and the company benefitted from the extra flexibility the change provided it allowed several members of staff to work who otherwise would have had to stay home with their baby. So can we expect this sort of scheme to become more commonplace? I think it's unlikely, but it's certainly one more option to be considered when attempting to find solutions to help parents work more flexibly.

Innes Clark

Innes Clark

Employment Lawyer
Morton Fraser Solicitors 

Website: www.morton-fraser.com/blog/employment E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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